The rise in ad blocking throughout the past 12 months has prompted the industry to take notice. It’s estimated that there are now 198 million ad blocker users around the world, and usage in the UK rose by 82% between June 2014 and June 2015.
Although previously a technology for a small number of Internet-savvy users, ad blockers have become a highly popular tool for the masses. However, by tackling this head-on, advertisers can not only fix the problem, but they may even be able to use it to their advantage.
The good news for advertisers is that they will not pay for ads that are not shown. Your ad isn’t loaded, and the impression call isn’t made.
Ad blocking is a vote of no confidence for advertisers, and publishers are being punished for it in lost revenue. Clearly publishers have a vested interest of revenue loss, so they are working hard to educate their readerships about online advertising.
Today’s ads take a long time to load, slow down websites and lessen the user experience. Crystal, one of the most popular of the early iOS ad blockers, discovered that half of its own users would be willing to view ads that weren’t too distracting, resource-heavy or data-intensive.
Additionally, Adblock Plus, another popular tool, found similar results, with 75% of its users saying they would be happy to allow ads that meet its “Acceptable Ads” criteria. Additionally, IAB’s LEAN guidelines are a useful resource for ad optimisation.
But given the media frenzy about ad blocking, it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. While the figures vary from source to source, according to Mezzobit (as of December 2015) the UK has an ad blocking user penetration of 12.8%. While this clearly shows that ad blocking is a serious issue, 87.2% of Brits still aren’t using an ad blocker.
However, the IAB’s most recent figures suggest that 22% of British adults online are now using ad blocking software, so 78% aren’t.
Advertisers are getting the opportunity to speak to the end user and adapt their methods before it is too late, getting feedback from them as to how ads can better suit their needs and deliver more relevant, user friendly and better performing ads.
Charlie Ashe is head of digital strategy at Ve